Wednesday, June 10, 2009

All This Lightning and No Farley

Today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse gives us a pretty good indication that it was written prior to Farley entering the comic strip. Thanks to the wonderful world of AMU reprints, I found 3 instances of thunderstorm strips, and all of them involved dogs. The first 2 involve April and the dogs. The last involves Elly and John and the dogs.

If Farley was around, today’s strip would involve Michael and Farley. Instead, Lynn Johnston had to go to the next best thing to Farley, the teddy bear. He pulls out the cuteness when he wakes up Elly. Thunder and lightning fears are typical for small children, and for once we get an age-appropriate reaction for young Michael Patterson. Lynn is hitting on a pretty easy target in the “my kids did this too” category. Moreover, with lightning fears we get the rare instance where Elly and John are not portrayed as bad parents. They usually comfort their child and take the fear seriously, which is what most experts recommend.

My children never seemed to experience lightning fears. To be honest, the thunder and lightning in Arizona is pretty pitiful. We have heat lightning and it can be quite beautiful to behold. But the thunder just doesn’t seem to have much punch to it. My kids were much more susceptible to bad dreams and that was usually the reason they came to invade my bedroom in the middle of the night. That plus the fact that I am such a heavy sleeper, they could often sneak into the bed without my noticing, at least when they were little.

What is there to say about this strip? I was amused in panel 2 by the sound effect “Flash” in the pitch black room. Maybe Lynn didn’t think that one through. I was relieved to see that Michael’s bed turned back to normal after Lawrence visited last week. In panel 1 it seemed a little odd for the drapes to be blown back from the window. I would think the window would be closed, if it was raining outside.

These are minor points. What we have today is a rarity in For Better or For Worse land – a good strip. Naturally, it’s a reprint.


Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

Of course, it's a reprint; if it were a new-ruin, Elly would be in high lecture mode telling him that he had to man up, stifle his fears and not disturb Mommy after a hard day's ignoring him and shaving sheets. In the original strip, she was a halfway-decent Mom; the new-ruin Elly can't make that claim.

3:00 AM  
Blogger howard said...

I suppose that is a possibility. However, other objectives with the new-runs are to make John look bad or to torture Farley or to have Michael do something way out-of-character for a 4-6 year-old kid, or to repeat jokes done by older characters. With a thunder and lightning strip, my money would be a new-run with Farley involvement and a duplication of one of the jokes Lynn did with April and Edgar in the same situation.

5:07 AM  
Blogger InsertMonikerHere said...

Interestingly, this is a strip which could have been an easy re-draw (fulfilling "new stuff" quota), and which probably should have been. Farley's in the strip - so do one with the same poses, dialogue, just have Mike with Farley at his side. Missed opportunity for an easy "new" strip - but still, yes, a nice reprint.

5:26 AM  
Blogger howard said...


Interestingly, this is a strip which could have been an easy re-draw (fulfilling "new stuff" quota), and which probably should have been. -

Good point. It’s been awhile since Lynn has done a redraw. She seems to favour completely different replacement strips lately. Tuesday May 26, 2009 with Elly giving a completely different farewell to John leaving on his dentist convention trip. That would have been an easy redraw just to make it match current airport security methods. However, Lynn chose to rewrite it to make John Patterson look bad and to include Elly spitting at John.

I think the last straight redraw she did was on Monday March 9, 2009, with Jean Baker and John Patterson, just before the Elly vacation storyline, which she redrew to establish that Jean was not John’s dental assistant but the April-like woman. Prior to that was the Saturday February 7, 2009 redraw of Connie and the want ad, to remove the appearance of a typewriter.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm apparently the only person in the world who thinks this is a very bad strip. Nothing happens in it. The sound effects look silly. The "point" is glurgetastic and has been made a billion times since humans evolved. It's okay to retell an old joke if you add something new to it, but Lynn's just retelling. It's the comic equivalent of Thomas Kinkaide.

12:38 PM  
Blogger howard said...


It's okay to retell an old joke if you add something new to it, but Lynn's just retelling. -

This is the point at which Lynn Johnston has left me. I see a strip where, for once, the kid is acting like a kid, and the parent is acting like a parent, and no one is being mean to someone else, and the drawing is not hideously out-of-proportion or a blatant rip-off of someone else’s art style and I declare “Good strip, Lynn Johnston.” My standards have definitely been lowered.

When you get right down to it, we have a sequence of strips that are either (a) reprints from the first year Lynn Johnston was ever doing comic strips and didn’t know what she was doing or (b) new material produced by a woman who hasn’t liked doing her own strip since 2000. Amazingly, choice (a) is almost always better material than choice (b). Consequently, the overall average quality of the strip is lower than it has ever been in the 30 years of its existence. How can you tell? Today’s mediocre, "everyone has done this joke" strip is one of best strips Lynn has published in awhile.

6:17 PM  

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